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Thursday, 18 March 2010
Page: 3064

Ms McKEW (Parliamentary Secretary for Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Local Government) (12:25 PM) —I thank members for participating in this debate on the Protection of the Sea Legislation Amendment Bill 2010, and the opposition for its support of the bill. I note the comments of the previous speaker but I can assure members opposite that safety is at the heart of this bill. In relation to comments made during the debate in relation to the Pacific Adventurer spill, on 10 March this year the Australian Maritime Safety Authority released the report of the incident analysis team into the response to the oil spill from the Pacific Adventurer in March last year. The incident analysis team was established by AMSA and Maritime Safety Queensland under the auspices of the National Plan to Combat Pollution of the Sea by Oil and Other Noxious and Hazardous Substances, as has been the practice in the past.

The report found that overall the response to the incident was effective and generally in accordance with the policies and procedures in the national plan. The report made 16 recommendations relating to how national, state and territory marine pollution preparedness and response arrangements might be improved throughout the country. Most of the recommendations of the report are already being acted upon by agencies involved in the response. The recommendations will also be considered by the national plan management committee as part of a wider review of the national plan to be taken in 2010-11.

This bill makes an important contribution to reducing air pollution by ships. Australia, of course, is almost entirely dependent on shipping for trade. This government believes that pollution from the transport sector should be reduced where practical. In shipping this is best achieved by ensuring that ships which visit Australian ports comply with internationally agreed emissions standards. This bill implements standards developed by the International Maritime Organisation to reduce the amount of sulphur oxides in ships’ exhaust gases. This will contribute to a reduction in air pollution and thereby improve human health. The bill will also ensure that people who assist with the clean-out of a spill of fuel oil will not become liable for pollution damage so long as they act in good faith. The passage of this bill reinforces the high safety standards applied to ships trading in Australia. I commend the bill to the House.

Question agreed to.

Bill read a second time.

Ordered that the bill be reported to the House without amendment.